John Omoyayi is our Chief Steward. He was born in Lagos, Nigeria and moved to Canada in 1988 for school. With aspirations of becoming a Police Officer, John took a positon at the Edmonton Convention Centre as Special Event Security. He moved through a few positions on the Security team, eventually landing a Deputy Security position. When an opportunity opened in our Stewarding department, John decided to take on a new challenge which led him to his current position – Chief Steward.
John has been working at SCC for over 17 years and it’s the people and environment that have enticed him to stay. “The building is so big and we have so many employees it’s like a little village or community – a home.” Stewarding can be a bit of a forgotten department because it’s mostly behind-the-scenes work. “It’s much more than washing dishes. There’s a science to what we do; we track the inventory of our dinner ware, sanitize all of our kitchen equipment to code, separate composting and recycling and so much more.” In a single dinner event, one guest will use up to 15 items for dinner. From knives, to plates and glasses, stewarding not only prepares but manages the flow of this inventory.
“80% of our business is food and beverage and my team plays a key role in our success.”
John credits all of his department’s success to his team. “We could not do it without them.” After hosting a dinner for 3,000 people the Stewarding department has a huge job in front of them. From composting leftover food, to sterilizing and sanitizing kitchen equipment, dinner ware and more, it can be a daunting task, but at 9:00 a.m. the next morning it’s all taken care of! “You may not see the magic happen, but that’s just what my team does,”says John.
The events industry is incredibly demanding and unpredictable. The hours are often sporadic and long so we asked John how he motivates his team to stay dedicated through what can feel like a rollercoaster. “We’re upfront and honest with people when we hire them. We inform them of our busy seasons and slow seasons and what their schedule may look like.” John’s honesty allows his team to plan ahead for the year. He is a hands-on manager, working long days and nights right alongside his team. “I think that if people see that I am able to be hands on and help the team work to get the job done they too will put forward their best effort. Working alongside people is a great motivator.” John also believes a simple please and thank-you goes a long way. He always thanks his team for a job well done and gives credit where credit is due. In a demanding industry like ours, these small efforts contribute to great success.
John views his department as so much more than just some dirty plates and he’s right. This department allows our business to run smoothly and successfully. John’s team is a cornerstone of our foundation. If you want to know about the hospitality industry, stewarding is the department to spend time in. If you’re in the food and beverage business, sanitation should be one of your top priorities. John runs his department like the health inspector is visiting every day. “We clean and sanitize to the same standards every day, no matter what the event. If we do it right today we don’t have to worry about it tomorrow.”
Sustainability is a priority for our convention centre. We work every day to protect the land this building is built on. Our Stewarding department contributes a lot to our sustainable success. They sort recycling, compost food properly and during waste audits they measure & count the waste diverted from landfill. John has been a champion of our sustainability program. “I love a challenge, if we can do better, if we can create a better future for younger generations, I want to be a part of that.” John developed a colour coding program with images for employees that don’t speak English as their first language. His program was so impressive that other culinary institutions reached out to adopt the same. “We try our best to make sure that things get where they need to be. Fat, oil, and grease is our main concern to keep out of the drains. We collect, freeze to solidify and then compost it. We’re successful because of the team that is so dedicated to supporting these practices.”
John’s passion for sustainability is also personal. In 2015 his home was featured in the Edmonton Eco-Home Tour. It’s a net-zero home that sends any excess power back into the grid!
John has experienced many events at the Edmonton Convention Centre over the years but his favourite have always been and continue to be graduations. “It’s just wonderful to see the joy on peoples face, after so many years of schooling, I’m happy to be a part of an event that is a milestone in their lives.”
We asked John how he answers the question: Why Edmonton?
“Edmonton is a city of opportunity if you’re willing to seek it out. It’s a city of giving & caring, of dedicated volunteers and a city of beautiful things for you to explore.”
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